Catherine Barnett’s death in an automobile accident scarred her entire family. Calvin, her husband, was left with the task of bringing his daughters out of adolescence and into adulthood. That, and keeping up the farm and his horses, consumed him. Olivia stayed close to home, marrying and raising her children near the home place in Columbus County, North Carolina. Faith, who has her mother’s beautiful voice and stage presence, left to attend the Julliard School in New York City. Faith’s lack of confidence and drive derailed her singing career, but in New York she met Luke Carraday, the younger son of financial wizard Austin Carraday.
When Heart of the Country opens, Faith and Luke have been married four years. The young couple have tried to find their own way in New York, living in a modest Manhattan apartment rather than on the Upper East Side, and keeping their appearances at big society events to minimum. None of this pleases Luke’s family, but only when Luke leaves the family firm to buy in with a competitor, the slightly shady Michov Brothers, does the Carraday family unity crack. Luke’s brother, Jake, is particularly harsh in his judgments–first Luke marries this country girl who must be a gold-digger and then he turn his back on the firm that their father poured his life into. It’s all Jake can do not to say “I told you so” when the Securities and Exchange Commission comes after Luke and the Michovs, and Faith turns her back on Luke and returns to North Carolina.
Faith’s return to North Carolina is no joyous homecoming. Olivia, who is feeling worn out at thirty, resents the attention that Faith receives and she is possessive about their father. Plus, she is offended by Faith’s failure to bring Luke to North Carolina to meet the family. The Barnetts wouldn’t know Luke if they walked right into him. Calvin is just feeling old, too old to care much about the house, the barn, even his beloved horse, Silver. Lee, the local ER doctor, offers his friendship to Faith, but his special knowledge of her mother’s death stands between them like a radioactive field.
Faith has come back to re-build her life, but she cannot do that without facing up to some truths about herself. Is she weak–someone who gives up after the first setback? The way she bolted when Luke was arrested marks her as someone who runs at the first sign of trouble. But what about Luke, will he survive his legal troubles, and if he does, will he find a way to win back Faith’s trust? Heart of the Country explores the pain that exists in even the closest of families and how religious faith and family love can bring about healing.
The film version of Heart of the Country, starring Jana Kramer, was released in 2012.
Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.